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What has television to do with climate? Green screens and green shooting

posted on 2024-07-08, 08:03 authored by Elke WeissmannElke Weissmann, Anne Marit Waade

Anne Marit Waade, Aarhus University, Denmark

What has television to do with climate? Green screens and green shooting

A crucial interdisciplinary research field is emerging focusing on the relationship between media and environment, in some contexts framed as ‘environmental media studies’ as part of environmental humanities, and in others ‘Anthropocene television studies’, ‘cli-fi’, or just ‘green screens’ and ‘green shooting’ (Doyle, Redclift & Woodgate 2011; Kääpä & Vaughan 2022; Leyda 2021; Iménez-Morales & Lopera-Mármol 2021 +2022; Saunders 2024; Soernesen & Noonan 2022; Souch 2020). In this talk I will map the different approaches to study and understand the relationship between television and climate. I will include both how television content represents and contributes to the ongoing societal discussion about environmental issues (green screens), as well as how the screen industry considers climate issues in the production practices (green shooting). Based on my own research on Nordic television drama series and screened landscapes, I will give some examples of both green screens and green shooting. Nordic noir and Arctic noir have in many cases dealt with climate issues as part of the narrative and the landscape aesthetics. In my talk I will draw on my work on the Danish series Borgen – Power and Glory (2022, DR/Netflix) taking place in Greenland, and Midnight Sun (2016, Nice/Canal+) set in Kiruna, as good examples of green screens and Anthropocene television drama (Grønlund & Waade 2024; Souch, Saunders and Waade 2023; Waade 2020). However, green screens are not restricted to fiction, but encompass also other kinds of television content as news, documentaries, and factual entertainment.

When it comes to green shooting, there are different kinds of considerations and research approaches, from critical political economy viewpoints, industry regulations, case-based production studies, technological and economic angles, to environmental production activism and community work. In this context I will give three examples, all of them focusing on technological potential and contradictions in screen productions; The first is the screen tourism app Detect Aarhus (2019-2021), the second is the blue sky crime series White Sand (TV2/Viaplay, 2021) shot on the Westcoast of Denmark, and the last example is Trom (Viaplay, 2021) set on the Faeroe Island and with an extensive use of drone shots. In general, on location shooting and screen production are not particularly climate friendly, it requires electric power, tracks, transport of the crew, flying in creatives, managing catering and trash and sometimes access to vulnerable locations and communities. Based on my examples, I will discuss to what extend different kinds of screen technologies can contribute to greening television productions.

In the end, I will reflect on how research can make a difference when it comes to green screen and green shooting; How we can deal with the climate unconscious and banal Anthropocene in television (Leida 2021), and in what ways we as television scholars can work in interdisciplinary, creative, and critical ways to engage in climate conditions (Bengesser & Waade 2021; Weissmann 2024).

Anne Marit Waade is professor at the Department of Media Studies and Journalism at Aarhus University in Denmark. She has published widely, amongst others on Location and Locality, Screen Tourism, Nordic Noir and Crime Drama. She is currently heading a research project on Cultural Transformations that examines the role of the media in larger socio-political changes.


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